Kendrick Lamar, rapper and Pulitzer Prize winner, doesn’t say much outside of his songs, but when he does, he makes it count. More than four years after the release of his most recent solo album, “Damn.,” and three years after the Lamar-helmed “Black Panther” soundtrack, he has finally given an update on his long-awaited next album. In a cryptically worded post on a new website linked from his Instagram account, he is apparently saying farewell to his longtime label and management company, Top Dawg Entertainment.
“As I produce my final TDE album, I feel joy to have been a part of such a cultural imprint after 17 years,” he wrote in part. “The Struggles. The Success. And most importantly, the Brotherhood. May the Most High continue to use Top Dawg as a vessel for candid creators. As I continue to pursue my life’s calling.
“There’s beauty in completion. And always faith in the unknown.”
The message is the only content on the mysterious website, www.oklama.com, and appears when one clicks on a yellow folder titled “nu thoughts”; presumably “Okalama” ties into the new album in some way. .
TDE founder Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith responded with a statement of his own.
“With this being Dot’s last album on TDE, this is more of a VICTORY LAP, a celebration. I know he will be successful in whatever it is he decides to do and will have our FULL support.”
Reps for TDE and Interscope, which distributes Lamar’s recordings, did not immediately respond to Variety‘s requests for further comment.
Curiously, Lamar and TDE’s other top act, SZA, have gone many years without releasing new albums. SZA has voiced frustration several times over delays in the follow-up to her Grammy-nominated 2017 album “Ctrl”; she has released singles, features, appeared on the “Black Panther” soundtrack and performed a livestreamed set sponsored by American Express in June, although she mostly performed songs that are several years old.
Lamar’s fourth album, “Damn,” was the first non-classical and non-jazz album awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Music, although he quickly followed that album with the soundtrack to 2018’s Marvel blockbuster “Black Panther: The Album,” for which he wrote and produced 14 songs. He also appeared on Variety’s first Hitmakers cover in 2017 and spoke at the event.
In the years since, he’s become a father, made several guest appearances, and not much more.
TDE, founded by Tiffith in 2004, also includes Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q, and Isaiah Rashad on its roster. Back in April, the company posted a cryptic teaser that simply said, “The wait is ovah!!!!,” leading most people to assume a new project from Lamar or SZA was imminent, but it turned out to be a new single and album from Rashad.